Philadelphia loves an underdog
The Philadelphia underdog image is one the city embraces. This was illustrated perfectly during this past year’s successful Super Bowl run. This was also demonstrated in the 2006 hit movie “Invincible” starring Mark Wahlberg. The film told the story of amateur football walk-on wide receiver Vince Papale. Papale manages to make the Philadelphia Eagles despite never playing major college football. With training camp upcoming, it’s time to look back at some other beloved underdogs in Eagles history.
Heath Sherman runs wild
While Sherman had an uneventful career he did, however, manage to capture the heart of fans. This Philadelphia underdog earned his place in Eagles lore with his darting running style and oversized shoulder pads. The sixth-round pick out of Texas A&M University only managed to rush for 2,130 yards for his career. He also only had 10 career touchdowns. However, the highlight of his career was in the 1990 season when he had two consecutive 110+ yard games. The Eagles made the playoffs but lost to the Washington Redskins in the wildcard round. Sherman would go on to play three more seasons and finished with a career average of 4 yards per carry.
— MyPhilaEagles (@MyPhilaEagles) February 3, 2016
Andy Harmon sack man
Harmon was another Philadelphia underdog that took on the characteristics of the city he played in. While he wasn’t the most talented defensive lineman, he made the most out of the skills he did have. He played alongside some legendary players that made him look better than he really was. Guys like Reggie White and Clyde Simmons took the bulk of the attention. From the defensive tackle position, however, Harmon managed to squeeze out 40 sacks.
Return man Vai Sikahema
Sikahema has had a better career now post-football than when he was playing. His career numbers are pedestrian. The broadcaster only scored four touchdowns as a return specialist. The undertalented but hard working player, however, will forever be a fan favorite for one moment. His shining moment in the spotlight was when he scored against the New York Giants in 1987. It wasn’t just the score but it was the aftermath where Sikahema rope a doped the goalpost that endears him to fans.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) November 22, 2017
Jim McMahon the original bro
McMahon won a Super Bowl in Chicago as part of the 85 Bears. His career, though, is nowhere near high level. The Super Bowl he won was primarily because of the historic defense the Bears had. By the time the former Bear came to the Eagles, his best days were behind him. That didn’t stop this Philadelphia underdog from being someone that fans rallied around.
Bryce Paup of the Green Bay Packers went low at star quarterback Randall Cunningham’s knees. Cunningham didn’t play again that season. McMahon came in and played admirably but sadly he himself did not last the season. Playing hurt for most of the year, McMahon could not finish the season for a team that had a historic defense as his body was breaking down.
Philadelphia underdog Kevin Curtis catches everything
Curtis was the ultimate Philadelphia underdog. While he played only three years in Philadelphia, he was embraced like few others. The former St. Louis Ram only played 16 games once in his career in 2007. During that 2007 season, Curtis really made his mark in the city of Philadelphia. The Eagles wore their yellow and blue throwback jerseys for a game against the Detroit Lions where the Eagles won 56-21.
Curtis caught three touchdowns passes to go with 211 receiving yards on 11 catches. The sight of him scampering up the field will be forever seared in fans minds. There have been few performances that match that in Eagles history other than maybe Terell Owens. A non-pedigreed player such as Curtis having an output like that certainly places him in the ever-growing category of Philadelphia underdogs.
The ultimate Philadelphia underdog
Perhaps no underdog in recent or past history will be more appreciated than Eagles running back Corey Clement. He helped the team to do what no other team in franchise history was able to do. Helping the franchise win the Lombardi trophy cemented Clement as the ultimate Philadelphia underdog of all time. With timely plays and a big performance, he grew up right before fans eyes. The thing with Clement is he still has a chance to go from ultimate underdog to high performing pro. With some more time and a bigger role this year, perhaps we’ll witness a renaissance before our eyes.
Super Bowl underdog/Super Bowl MVP
Finally, there was no bigger performance by a perceived “underdog” than the one by quarterback Nick Foles. While not an underdog in the traditional sense of everyone else in this list; the moniker still fits. Foles outplayed Tom Brady with clutch throws, and more importantly a tough catch. While he may not have the promise of Wentz or the trophy case of Brady one thing Foles does have though is the respect and admiration of a city often seen as an underdog itself. Nothing is bigger than that.
Stats provided by profootballreference.com and NFL.com
Flickr photo: Kianoosh Raika